I Stumbled Through Life Until Recovery Helped Me Find My Balance

Hi, I’m Jenn and I’m an alcoholic/addict. I’m 33 years old. I had my first drink when I was 13, with my youth group. I remember everything felt good. Warm tingles spread through my body and my mind stopped racing- that was the best part. The stillness. The escape from pressure. That’s what drew me to alcohol, and not long after, to drugs. The escape, and the bliss- it felt good physically and mentally. I justified, in the beginning, that since I was a professed hedonist, drugs and alcohol were my religion, my way to God. The first time I knew that I had a problem was sometime in high school. I just knew, a gut feeling, that it wasn’t right. That my use of drugs and alcohol, my need for them, wasn’t normal. But, I was high functioning; I got great grades and I came from a good family- the youngest of three in a two-parent household, upper middle class. My drinking and drug use was a rebellion against my perfectly normal family. I loved that I could drink, smoke, use ecstasy all under my parents’ nose and still get straight As.

I went off to college and, it just got worse. The partying and drinking- the black outs started. I got through college- I was still high functioning, but I was also known as a party girl, and I was incredibly difficult to be around when I drank. One time, I fell down a flight of stairs at a night club. I was told the next morning that I insisted I was ok and continued to party and dance the night away. I woke up with blood all over my pillow and a black eye. I looked in the mirror and felt like I was looking at a stranger. I knew something was wrong, but I was insistent that I couldn’t stop drinking or using drugs- that’s what made me, me. I was an artist- drinking and drugs were my gateway to experience; they enabled me to feel deeply and perform from a place of “truth”. Plus- what fun would life be without a cocktail? Without the occasional bag of coke?

I graduated from SMU in 2006 and moved to NYC with big plans. I was going to make it as an actress. I got a job waiting tables, and an apartment on the upper (upper upper) west side. I went to 3 auditions, was an extra on law and order, did a regional play in Albany. Mostly, though? I went to bars. I spent money. I put myself in dangerous situations. I was in the city for two years when it all really fell apart. I couldn’t hold a job, I wasn’t even trying to pursue acting anymore. I was stumbling through life, drunk and high. I went to my first AA meeting ever on the upper east side. Everything I read and heard at the meeting made sense, rang true. I picked up my first white chip. I made it about 23 hours.
I had run up $10,000 in credit card debt and gotten pregnant. I had an abortion and then about two weeks later my older brother bought me a plane ticket back to Florida.

This is now my mid- twenties. I was back in Florida, living at my parent’s house. I had nothing so far to show for my life, post college. I didn’t have a start on any kind of career, except in restaurants. I knew I was an alcoholic and addict but couldn’t stop. The next five years were awful. I was in and out of the rooms- more white chips then I can remember- and in and out of rehabs. I made my parents’ lives awful. I would get wasted and black out at home, scaring them. I would steal my dad’s pills- pain killers, sleeping pills- whatever was available. Things would get better for a while and then I’d relapse. I got a job, and managed to hold onto it for two years. Then, I met a guy in a meeting. We hit it off, and I started hanging out with him. One night he confessed he was using meth. He told me this trying to get clean, to be honest with someone. I listened…then convinced him to let me try some. Of course, I loved it. I became a regular user. I stopped drinking, because I was smoking meth. I lost my job about 30 days after I first tried it. I used it daily for 18 months, eventually moving in with the guy. We learned how to “cook” it ourselves. Our life revolved around meth- getting the stuff to make it, making it and then using it. Attempting to regain balance, I got back into school- taking the pre-recs for a nursing program. I worked part time coaching gymnastics and at a restaurant. I didn’t see my family. I was limping through life. I tried desperately to maintain, but it was a thin veneer, easily cracked.

Finally, on July 25th, 2012 it ended. The police knocked down our door at 7:30 in the morning. Apparently, they’d been following us for some time, tracking our purchases of Sudafed, going through our trash. After 4 months in jail, I transferred to a court ordered rehab. I spent 12 months there. It saved my life. I got the space I needed- from the drugs, my family, from myself.

Today, I’m married and I have a job in health care. I’m a step mom. I’m generally happy.

I relapsed last summer- a slip. I’m sober again, with the help of suboxone. I struggle to believe that I’m really sober- because of the suboxone. I don’t go to meetings because I don’t want to lie about the suboxone. I’m an addict. I have a disease. I am living with it; there are ups and downs- but I am alive, and I’m happy I’m alive.